Benilde Hall, as always, was eerily quiet. The deep hallway of the first floor rested in darkness and silence, waiting eagerly for something to disturb its total stillness.
As Coach Dickens cracked open the door to the hallway, the silence remained intact. He moved noiselessly across the threshold of the door and drifted as quietly as a mouse down the hall. He arrived at the other end and crept up to the last door on the left. He paused there for a few seconds, meditating and preparing himself for the fight that would follow. Then, with a jerk that would have given a normal person whiplash, he reared his head back.
Coach Ashcraft’s classroom door flew off of its hinges and across the room as Dickens headbutted it in. He wasted no time as he burst in, delivering a concussive supersonic scream to the room and decimating everything inside of it.
Dickens scanned the room through the clouds of splintered debris and loose papers, searching for his prey. To his annoyance, the room was empty.
“ASHCRAFT!!!!!” Dickens bellowed, “YOU CAN’T HIDE FROM ME!!!!”
The furious Assistant Principal had been on the warpath since the start of the tournament. He went on a rampage across the campus, targeting only a certain type of person: anyone with facial hair. You see, Coach Dickens was the proud owner of the most glorious beard in the universe. It was what granted him his supersonic scream, his mega-powerlifting strength, and his weather-controlling powers, which he used to divert rain whenever the football team was practicing. It was clearly the pinnacle of Vandyke perfection. This was why it angered the English teacher so to see others try to outdo his own. If someone grew facial hair of any kind, Coach Dickens viewed it as a challenge; a confrontation of his own beard game. During the school year, he kept this hatred inside him, letting it boil and fester until he had the chance to release it.
The Deadliest Teacher Tournament was his outlet.
Straight out the gate, he quickly eliminated Mr. Lacour and Mr. Marchese, who had both spawned into the Matrix not 50 yards from him in Hunter Stadium. He easily outran Lacour’s Quicksilver super speed, and Marchese’s Smoothie King bombs only managed to drench him in fruity pink goop.
Soon after, he tracked down Coach Santos, whose only real attack was drilling footballs at him with his quarterback’s arm. He went down after a fight that obliterated a sizable section of the main school building.
Slowly but surely, he eliminated more and more challengers, including Coaches Lahey, Francis, and Spencer. The only one who had escaped his wrath, so far, was Mr. Morlas, who used his smaller build to escape through an air vent.
The real target, however, was Coach Ashcraft. During the previous school year, Ashcraft had grown a massive, luxurious, and indeed glorious, beard. Soon enough, he gained campus-wide renown for his impressive stubble, inciting comparisons to Jesus and Moses. This was unacceptable, and clearly a taunt towards Dickens’s flawless facial fuzz. Almost immediately, Ashcraft became the prime directive. He had to pay for his arrogance.
There was only one problem — he was nowhere to be found. As Coach Dickens sifted through the debris of Ashcraft’s classroom, he found that the Religion teacher was simply not there. Realizing that he had wasted valuable time by coming here, Dickens started to leave…
… until he noticed a strange orange scrap poking out of a pile of rubble.
Puzzled, Coach Dickens edged closer to the out-of-place object. When the debris pile got close enough, he realized with horror what it was.
It was a Reese’s wrapper.
The trap was sprung before Dickens had time to react. From out of nowhere, Coach Pierre delivered an earth-shattering blow to the English teacher’s head, throwing him into the wall like a discarded ragdoll. Unhurt but thoroughly surprised, Coach Dickens promptly responded with a supersonic roar, sending a barrage of deadly sound waves directly for Pierre’s ears.
The force of the scream steadily pushed Coach Pierre backwards until he was pressed against the opposite wall. Covering his ears did nothing as the deafening shriek raked at his eardrums. Fighting against the force of the thunderous wail, Pierre put out his hand in front of him and began pushing against the force like a hiker trudging through a blizzard.
As Coach Pierre inched closer, Coach Dickens cranked up the volume. The cinder block walls of the classroom quaked and crumbled as the decibel level quickly passed 200. The building was coming down around them. A massive chunk of concrete dislodged itself from the ceiling and hung precariously over Coach Pierre’s head. Seeing an opportunity, Dickens redirected his force toward the roof, burying the Chemistry teacher in an avalanche of cement.
Noticing his opportunity, Coach Dickens made his escape. As he sprinted across the lawn to seek asylum in the chapel, he heard the sound of roiling stone coming from the building behind him. Without warning, a concrete boulder struck the ground ahead of him with meteoric force. Dickens weaved around the newly formed crater and kept running, booking it for the chapel door. He was almost there. His arm stretched out for the door handle —
— and was nearly torn off as Coach Pierre crashed through the wooden overhang above the door, obliterating it underneath him.
“First warning,” Coach Pierre mumbled softly.
Pierre karate-kicked Dickens with a power and speed that would make Bruce Lee jealous, sending the O-Line coach flying backwards.
While soaring through the air, Coach Dickens decided he wasn’t going to get tossed around anymore. With a flick of his chin, he activated his beard’s full potential. Dozens of fuzzy tendrils shot out from the scruff, planting themselves in the dirt and halting the teacher’s backward momentum. More and more tendrils whipped out from his chin, grabbing hold of anything nearby and bringing him higher. Soon enough he was fifty feet in the air, supported by a mass of hairy, spider-like legs. Thunder clouds gathered around his head, swirling and crackling with rumbling electricity. Dickens cast his eyes down upon his enemy, who looked like a puny flea from this high up.
“Don’t worry,” he said to the flea, “After you’ve fought me, everything else will be easy.”
Meanwhile, inside the Gym, Coach Moore and Coach Nastasi were locked in furious mortal combat. Punches and kicks flurried in an accelerated frenzy, and the fighters tried to outdo each other’s speed. Coach Nastasi, being a Track coach, specialized in short bursts of speed, and so always struck first. Coach Moore, being a Cross Country coach, specialized in endurance, and so was quick to block and counter each of Nastasi’s strikes immediately. This exchange happened once every hundredth of a second as the coaches continued in their supersonic brawl. Coach Moore was about to attempt his 342,485th roundhouse kick when he was interrupted by a meteor obliterating the roof of the Gymnasium and colliding with the bleachers with an eardrum-rupturing CRASH!!!
“What the–?!” Coach Nastasi exclaimed, and as he whipped around to see the wreckage, Coach Moore delivered the only successful blow in the fight, striking Nastasi across the jaw and immediately eliminating him from the tournament. As the Track coach burst into neon green, Coach Moore fell to his knees, thoroughly exhausted from the grueling fight. Sweat glistened on his brow as he took his time to catch his breath.
Suddenly Coach Moore’s head perked up. He heard something. Puzzled, he listened closer. It was a rapid crunching sound, like it was raining boulders. Something big was coming. Realizing that he was not in a good place, the World History teacher hit the floor cross-legged and furrowed his brow in concentration. Using the power of his well-trained and focused mind, Coach Moore dematerialized and teleported to safety, narrowly avoiding a beard tentacle that planted itself through the roof and penetrated the hardwood floor.
As Coach Dickens loomed over the Gymnasium, perched on his towering beard tentacles, he reached a tendril into the remains of the stands, digging out Coach Pierre from the rubble. With a forceful squeeze, he constricted the Chemistry teacher’s unconscious form until he popped in a shower of Matrix code. A cannon sounded off in the distance.
Satisfied with his victory, Dickens started to retract his beard-legs, lowering himself slowly to the basketball court. Panting and out of breath, he collapsed to the floor. Doing that always tired him out. As he got to his feet, he noticed a beam of sunlight shining through the jagged hole in the roof. The storm that had formed during the brawl was clearing to reveal a massive television screen in the sky. The second round was over. Faces cycled on the screen as the fight song kicked into gear: Mrs. Falzgraf, Mrs. Brett, Mr. Pinero, Mr. Boudreaux, Mrs. Kennedy, Mr. Nastasi, and… that was it. The screen winked out and faded out of view as it was enveloped with clouds.
Why didn’t it show Coach Pierre’s face?
In shocked disbelief, Coach Dickens rushed over to the crater in the stands. His head peered over the edge as he looked down into the hole. There, in the center, was one object that seemed out of place.
It was a Reese’s wrapper.
Meanwhile, in the tunnels that run underneath campus, Coach Pierre waded through the inky darkness. A lonely glow pushed the blackness away around the coach. His pointer finger was lit up with electrified neon gas, a useful skill that was a feature of his total mastery of the periodic table. This same skill was what allowed him to create an exact replica of himself as a decoy. It seemed to even fool the gamemakers at first; he heard a cannon shot shortly after he made his escape. Dickens had become a more-than-formidable foe since he was promoted to Assistant Principal. Pierre would have to avoid him in the future. Right now, though, he had to worry about finding his way out of these catacombs.
Coach Pierre whipped around toward the noise, thrusting his finger into the dark void to reveal the source. There was nothing but dusty air.
What was that? Coach Pierre thought, nervously scanning the darkness with flitting eyes.
Pierre heard another whisper from the jet-black tunnel stretching in front of him. This time it said something. He could just barely make it out. It said…
“Hey there, Ace…”
TO BE CONTINUED…